New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance, defending grand jury-issued subpeonas to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns, suggested Monday that the purpose was for a wider investigation of “protracted criminal conduct” at the Trump Organization.
The comments came as part of a court filing as Trump’s legal team challenges the subpoenas. The Supreme Court earlier this year rejected arguments made by the president’s lawyers that he had blanket immunity from prosecution.
The New York grand jury investigation was said to have focused on obtaining records related to the hush-money payments made by Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to two women who claim to have had affairs with Trump. He denies their allegations.
But the filing on Monday indicated that Vance’s team is looking into much more.
“In light of these public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization, there was nothing facially improper (or even particularly unusual) about” the subpoena against Mazars, Trump’s accounting firm, according to a filing in U.S. District Court in New York.
The prosecutors cited allegations of bank and insurance fraud by the Trump Organization and its officers. More specifically, they pointed to reports in The Washington Post, including a March, 2019 report that Trump inflated his net worth to investors.
The Supreme Court ruled in July that, while Trump does not have blanket immunity from Vance’s subpoena, the president’s legal team still could challenge them in a lower court on other grounds.
In seeking a court order to invalidate the subpoena, Trump’s legal team argued that prosecutors’ subpoena of Mazars was “wildly overbroad and is not remotely confined to the grand jury investigation that began in 2018.” They said that the subpoena “amounts to harassment of the President in violation of his legal rights, including those held under Article II of the Constitution.”
New York prosecutors argued that the Trump team’s “‘new’ filing contains nothing new whatsoever, and Plaintiff has utterly failed to make a ‘stronger showing’ of bad faith than he previously made to this Court.”
Even if New York prosecutors obtain Trump’s tax records, it’s unlikely that they would go public before the election, as grand jury investigations are kept private. That’s why the latest hints of where Vance and his team are headed in their probe are so significant.
Asked about the investigation at a press conference on Monday, Trump said, “This is just a continuation of the witch hunt.”